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Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu

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Indulge in the bold flavours of Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu, a spicy and tangy South Indian eggplant curry bursting with aromatic spices.

Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu, also known as Spicy Eggplant Sambar, is a mouthwatering South Indian dish that bursts with flavours and spices. This traditional recipe showcases the rich culinary heritage of Tamil Nadu, where eggplants are cooked in spicy and tangy tamarind-based gravy. The dish is characterized by its bold flavours, aromatic spices, and unique blend of tanginess and spiciness. The eggplants absorb the flavours of the spices, resulting in a tender and flavorful bite. With each spoonful, you’ll experience the perfect balance of tangy tamarind, fiery red chilli, and aromatic spices like coriander, cumin, and fenugreek.

This delectable Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu pairs wonderfully with steamed rice, providing a comforting and satisfying meal. Combining the spicy curry with the fluffy rice creates a harmonious balance of flavours. You can also enjoy it with traditional South Indian staples like dosa or roti for a delightful culinary experience. The versatility of this dish allows you to adjust the spice level according to your preference, making it suitable for all taste buds. So, get ready to tantalize your taste buds with the irresistible flavours of Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu!

Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu

Image via Plentiful Platter

Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu
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Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu

Indulge in the bold flavours of Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu, a spicy and tangy South Indian eggplant curry bursting with aromatic spices.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Chettinad, South Indian, Tamil Nadu


  • 3 Tomatoes chopped
  • 250 g Brinjal chopped
  • 250 g Small Onions chopped
  • 10 Garlic Cloves peeled, finely chopped or minced
  • 1 cup Tamarind Extract
  • 1/2 cup Oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • handful Curry Leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Asafoetida Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Pepper Powder
  • 4 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • as per taste Salt
  • few Coriander Leaves chopped

Fry in little oil and grind to a paste:

  • 1/2 Coconut grated
  • 1/2 tsp Saunf
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Gasa Gasa


  • Heat oil in a pan.
  • Fry the curry leaves, mustard seeds, asafoetida and fenugreek for a minute.
  • Add the small onions and garlic.
  • Fry till onions turn light brown.
  • Add tomatoes and saute for a minute or two.
  • Add the ground paste and stir to mix well.
  • Add the masala powders and pour the tamarind extract.
  • Add salt and mix well.
  • Add the brinjals and bring to a boil.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and simmer over low flame for 5 minutes or until the brinjals are tender.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot with rice or as a side dish with idli, dosa or appam.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu

Can I use a different vegetable instead of eggplant for Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu?

Absolutely! While eggplant is the traditional vegetable used in this recipe, you can also experiment with other vegetables. Okra, drumsticks, or even mixed vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and beans can be used to prepare a delicious Kara Kuzhambu. The choice of vegetables will bring unique flavours and textures to the dish, so feel free to get creative and customize it according to your preferences. 

Is Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu spicy?

Yes, Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu is known for its spiciness. The dish incorporates a variety of spices like red chilli powder, coriander, and cumin, which contribute to its fiery flavour profile. However, the spice level can be adjusted according to your taste preferences. Reduce the chilli powder or use soft chilli varieties if you prefer milder flavours. On the other hand, if you enjoy the heat, you can add extra spice to enhance the fiery kick of the kuzhambu. 

Can I make Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu without tamarind?

Tamarind is an essential ingredient in Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu, providing a tangy flavour that balances the dish’s spiciness. However, you don’t have tamarind or prefer a substitute. In that case, you can use alternatives like raw mango or lemon juice to achieve a similar tangy taste. Adjust the quantity of the replacement to suit your desired level of tanginess. The choice of an alternative will bring its unique flavour to the kuzhambu, giving it a refreshing twist. 

What are some suitable accompaniments for Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu?

Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu pairs wonderfully with steamed rice, creating a complete and satisfying meal. You can also enjoy it with traditional South Indian dishes like dosa, idli, or roti for a delightful combination. The kuzhambu’s bold flavours complement the rice’s mildness or the bread’s soft texture, creating a perfect balance. To enhance the dining experience, you can serve it with side dishes like papad, pickle, or cooling raita to add different dimensions of taste and texture. 

Can I make Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu ahead of time?

Certainly! Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu tastes even better when the flavours have had time to meld together. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. The flavours will intensify, resulting in a more flavorful and delicious dish. Add a little water or tamarind extract to adjust the consistency and revive the flavours when reheating. This make-ahead feature makes Kathirikai Kara Kuzhambu a convenient choice for busy weekdays or when you want to prepare in advance for gatherings or special occasions.

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